It’s ballooning


Wednesday's blast in Pakistan occurred in the same general area as a bombing earlier this month that killed at least 48 people. The Bomb Disposal Squad said more than 300 pounds of explosives had been packed into the car used in Wednesday's attack -- three times the amount used in the attack earlier this month. (Arshad Arbab/European Pressphoto Agency)

It’s war. Taliban militants storm a guest house used by U.N. staff in Kabul, killing 12. Three days ago, the group issued a statement threatening anyone working on the Nov. 7 runoff election between Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah. “This is our first attack,” said a Taliban spokesman. Until now, the best protection offered to the thousands of U.N. staff in the Afghan capital has come from an unwillingness of insurgents to target an organization that has been active in the country for decades. But scratch that. After years of insisting that its staff in Kabul live in guesthouses with armed guards, the U.N.’s hostel system — scattered throughout the city and individually secured — falls short. It’s a security nightmare. Local guards armed with assault rifles are no match for this sort of planned assault. (AP)

Madoff. Sanford. Rajaratnam. Now Keiner? German and U.S. authorities are investigating German hedge fund giant, K1, and its founder Helmut Keiner for engaging in circular transactions that made the company appear to have more cash to backstop loans from banks than it actually did. Banking giants that have suffered losses (totaling around $400 million) include Barclays, BNP, Paribas and JP Morgan, who seems to have inherited contact with K1 when it acquired the now defunct Bear Stearns. Authorities have not been able to find Keiner despite calls to offices and residences in Frankfurt, Japan, Spain and the Virgin Islands. Reps at larger banks have said that they will cooperate. (Bloomberg)

Pak Today. Over 80 people died in a Preshawar market bombing shortly after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged continued U.S. commitment to Pakistani security. A blast also went off in Islamabad on Wednesday when she she first arrived in the Pakistani capital for talks.

The death toll is (in Today’s blast) the largest in the last two years. The question many people will be asking is, ‘what is the government doing to protect these people and thwart these attacks before they’re even mounted?’.” Omar Warich, journalist on the scene.

Hooky. Though ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic skipped out for the second day of his genocide and war-crimes trials at The Hague, prosecutors took advantage of his absence by painting Karadzic as the leader of an ethnic cleansing campaign. Transcripts of phone taps from 1999 echoed throughout the court, reminding it of the bloody 1992-95 Bosnian conflict that left 100,000 dead — particularly the 44-month siege of Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which killed 10,000 city residents through vigorous sniping and shelling from the surrounding hills.

“They have to know that there are 20,000 armed Serbs around Sarajevo . . . it will be a black cauldron where 300,000 Muslims will die,” Dr Karadzic was recorded as saying.

“They will disappear. That people will disappear from the face of the Earth.”

These were private phone calls between Karadzic and his allies, showing his rage that Muslim leaders were daring to resist the partition of the Bosnian capital. The trial will go on, the U.N. court declares. (BBC)

Got 200 bucks? Ticket sales are dropping for tonight’s World Season Opener between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees. Nosebleed tickets have dropped from $330 to $270 due to inclement weather expected in the northeast. (Crain’s)

Bad bank. GMAC Inc — the only lender to have gone through stress tests by the U.S. government and still require another public rescue — is asking the Feds for a third bailout, in addition to its previous lifelines totaling $12.5 billion. The new aid would come in the form of preferred stock, meaning that the U.S.’s 35.4% stake in the company could increase with the deal. Following last spring’s bank stress tests, the government deemed GMAC needed another $11.5 billion of capital — and given six months to raise it. No surprise that the firm is selling $2.9 billion in bonds today to aid in the cause. Though Washington has high interests in keeping the auto sector afloat, some are making noise that GMAC — with a very diversified portfolio that, like everyone else’s, deteriorated under bad subprime mortgage investments — is not General Motors. (WSJ)


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